MIAMI — Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade have been discussing a basketball reunion in Miami for a while. But neither of them thought it would happen this soon.
“This is something him and I talked about playing together,” Haslem said after Thursday’s practice. “But we didn’t see it happening so soon. We figured it would probably be next year. Take it step by step and figure it out this summer. But everything happens for a reason.”
Before Wade decided to sign with the Cavaliers over the Heat in free agency last summer, Haslem said Wade’s return “would be a dream come true.” Well, that dream is now a reality after Miami acquired the 36-year-old Wade by sending a second-round pick to the Cavaliers a few hours before the trade deadline Thursday.
And Haslem couldn’t be happier to be reunited with his close friend and longtime teammate.
“It’s huge,” said Haslem, who spent the first 13 seasons of his NBA career as Wade’s teammate with the Heat. “It’s a great feeling. I’m excited right now, you probably can’t tell. But I’m really excited about the opportunity to finish the season with him and see how far we can go.”
The news also reminded Haslem about his longtime agent Henry “Hank” Thomas, who he shared with Wade. Thomas passed away recently after battling a neuromuscular disease.
After last week’s Heat loss to the Cavaliers in Cleveland, Haslem and Wade traveled to Chicago together for Thomas’ funeral.
“I just immediately thought about our agent Hank,” Haslem said of his immediate reaction to the Heat’s acquisition of Wade. “Hank is still doing his job, he’s still making moves, he’s still looking over us, he’s still taking care of us from up top. We talked about [playing together again with the Heat], but we figured it was probably a situation where we talk this summer and figure it out from that point on. We didn’t think it would happen this soon.”
But Haslem is happy it did, for the Heat and South Florida.
“I guess I can share my city with him again,” Haslem, a Miami native, said with a smile. “This city loves Wade. Regardless of him leaving, he’s done a tremendous amount of good around here and people still love him. I’m sure they’re just as excited to have him back as we are.”
Haslem exchanged text messages with Wade after learning about the trade and described him as “excited.”
“He’s looking forward to it,” Haslem said of Wade’s reaction. “It’s a lot of things that factor in, not just coming home. But his son is playing high school basketball. He’s never been away from his kids playing in another city. His kids were with him last year in Chicago. There’s a lot of things that factor in to him coming back.”
Like the promise Wade made to Haslem that they would finish their careers together.
“I made a promise to [Haslem] that we were going to finish our careers together,” Wade said after signing with the Bulls in the summer of 2016. “As of now, I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain, so I have to make it up to him eventually.”
Eventually has turned into now.
“He promised me. But I wasn’t going to hold him to it,” Haslem said. “It was looking kind of shaky for a while, so I said I’m just going to leave that one alone and we’ll take another promise. But it’s good to have him back, man. It’s going to be fun.
“More so than anything, me personally having him back, I appreciate having somebody back to help lead this group of guys. We have a lot of talent. We have all the tools that we need. We just got to continue to lead these guys and continue to point them in the right direction. Not just teach them, but show them what it is to be a champion.”